I just got another junk mail from SDL urging me to buy Trados Studio 2011. The price? Lower than ever. Well, should I rush out and buy another license? Hmm. Not so fast. Falling prices usually indicate a drop in demand, and this time it’s easy to guess why this is happening. It’s called the cloud and my guess is that it is suppressing the sales of Trados.
Lots of software companies are moving to a SaaS (software as a service) model. For example Adobe. Now you can buy affordable monthly subscriptions for their most popular products, like Adobe InDesign. It makes sense for customers. Instead of spending a lot of money in advance for a software license, you can buy the license for small sums when you need it. Customers also get the latest version of the product in a SaaS environment. But if you buy a one-time license, then you need to spend extra money each time you want to upgrade. The SaaS model is also good for the vendor. Because after a year or so, the customer has already spent more money than they would for a one-time license purchase.
There are a number of vendors that sell online CAT tools. One example of a CAT tool vendor that sells a monthly SaaS subscription is Czech-based Memsource. I recently met the CEO of this company, a very nice man named David Canek. Memsource has a free version which you can use to evaluate the product. And a monthly subscription starts at $25 per month so you can try the tool for a while and if it does not work out, just cancel the subscription. This makes more financial sense than paying a lot of money for a software license and then finding out that it is unsuitable for your needs.
Will SDL move Trados to the cloud in order to keep up with the competition? Rumors have it that their acquisition of Language Weaver was not a huge success and that there is a lot if infighting going on between the new MT group and the CAT tools group at SDL. Sales of software tools account for approximately 40% of the revenue at SDL. With the decline in the sales of Trados, SDL will need to do something to boost sales of its CAT tools. Otherwise it may become just another big LSP. The stock market has spoken as well and the price of SDL stock has tumbled about 35% in the last 6 months.
Have you ever used a CAT tool on a subscription basis? Which one? Are you considering such a tool? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.